Bender twins ready for showdown
Twin brothers Lars and Sven Bender are set to battle it out on Sunday when Bayer Leverkusen and Borussia Dortmund play each other for second place in the Bundesliga.
The race for the title might already be over, with Bayern holding an 11-point lead over chasers Leverkusen and Dortmund, but the battle for second place is hotting up. Leverkusen host Dortmund only a point ahead of the champions.
The clash of these two German titans also sees Lars and Sven Bender go head-to-head in midfield. The twins were born just 12 minutes apart on April 27th, 1989, and are both in contention for a starting berth. Lars, the elder brother is a certain starter for Leverkusen while Sven could deputise for Dortmund skipper Sebastian Kehl who was unable to fully train this week.
Over the past few years the Bender twins, who both started their professional career at 1860 Munich, have made a name for themselves for their hard-working approach to the game and tactical nous in defensive midfield. Germany boss Joachim Low even admitted: "One Bender always has to be in my squad. With a Bender you know what you have."
While Dortmund's Sven has won more trophies - a German Cup and two German championships - it is Lars who has impressed at international level, earning 11 caps to Sven's three and impressing as a right-back in Euro 2012.
Dortmund fans had nicknamed Sven the 'indestructible robot' but injuries this season have seen the midfielder start only seven games. Leverkusen's Lars on the other hand has become a lynchpin in midfield and has started 18 out of a possible 19 games.
Sven recently told Reviersport he was concentrating on getting fit and playing football again and has done just that with two substitute appearances, forming a partnership with new signing Nuri Sahin, in central midfield.
While Lars told Bild: "I just hope his run of bad luck has come to an end. I think it is great how he has always come back. With Sven the coach knows he can always rely on him. When he is needed, he is there!"
But he has no plans to hand the win to his brother on Sunday. "For both teams it is an important game," he said. "If we win, we would have opened quite a gap to the teams in fourth and fifth."
Lars continued: "If we qualify for Champions League that is a huge success. After last season not a lot of people expected that from us."
Both brothers have been at the centre of transfer speculation. Lars has been linked with a move to league leaders Bayern Munich and Sven to Manchester United.